The Quest for Queen Mary
By James Pope-Hennessy, Hugo Vickers
'A scary portrait of put-upon servants and potty aristos ... this is arguably the most riotously funny volume published this year' Max Hastings, Sunday Times'One of the funniest, most eccentric books of the year' Craig Brown, Mail on SundayWhen James Pope-Hennessy began his work on Queen Mary's official biography, it opened the door to meetings with royalty, court members and retainers around Europe. The series of candid observations, secrets and indiscretions contained in his notes were to be kept private for 50 years. Now published in full for the first time and edited by the highly admired royal biographer Hugo Vickers, this is a riveting, often hilarious portrait of the eccentric aristocracy of a bygone age. Giving much greater insight into Queen Mary than the official version, and including sharply observed encounters with, among others, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the Duke of Gloucester, and a young Queen Elizabeth, The Quest for Queen Mary is set to be a classic of royal publishing.
By Max Arthur
Tough, highly adaptable and efficient, the Parachute Regiment has established itself as one of the finest fighting forces in the world. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its founding, renowned historian Max Arthur has compiled this enthralling oral history of the modern Parachute Regiment.This unique chronicle is told through the voices of more than a hundred of the soldiers themselves, and of those involved closely with them. Whether in the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone or Afghanistan, the Paras have maintained their reputation for being where the fighting is fiercest and where the odds of survival are often stacked heavily against them.The gripping, visceral first-person narrative makes The Paras stand apart from conventional regimental histories as one of the most remarkable accounts of conflict ever published.
By Giles Milton
Almost seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the day of the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance on that chill June morning. If Allied forces succeeded in gaining a foothold in northern France, the road to victory would be open. But if the Allies could be driven back into the sea, the invasion would be stalled for years, perhaps forever.An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 20,000 armoured vehicles, the desperate struggle that unfolded on 6 June 1944 was, above all, a story of individual heroics - of men who were driven to keep fighting until the German defences were smashed and the precarious beachheads secured. Their authentic human story - Allied, German, French - has never fully been told.Giles Milton's bold new history narrates the day's events through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht's bunkers, D-Day: The Soldiers' Story lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the frontline of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those hitherto unheard - the French butcher's daughter, the Panzer Commander's wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff.This vast canvas of human bravado reveals 'the longest day' as never before - less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face. It is drawn in its entirety from the raw, unvarnished experiences of those who were there.
By Ben Coates
The Rhine is one of the world's greatest rivers. Once forming the outer frontier of the Roman Empire, it flows 800 miles from the social democratic playground of the Netherlands, through the industrial and political powerhouses of Germany and France, to the wealthy mountain fortresses of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. For five years, Ben Coates lived alongside a major channel of the river in Rotterdam, crossing it daily, swimming and sailing in its tributaries. In The Rhine, he sets out by bicycle from the Netherlands where it enters the North Sea, following it through Germany, France and Liechtenstein, to its source in the icy Alps. He explores the impact that the Rhine has had on European culture and history and finds out how influences have flowed along and across the river, shaping the people who live alongside it. Blending travelogue and offbeat history, The Rhine tells the fascinating story of how a great river helped shape a continent.
The Colditz Conundrum
By Tom Shore
Colditz Castle is famous as the German prisoner of war camp, subject of a popular TV series in 1980s. It was supposed to impossible to escape from this castle set high on a rocky escarpment, and yet a series of daring, even foolhardy escape plans involving tunnels cut into solid rock and a glider led to several notable successes. In this new complete history of Colditz as a high security prisoner of war camp, housing in the end only British and American prisoners, including Douglas Bader and Airey Neave, author and researcher Tom Shore advances the theory that multiple coincidences point to there having been a hidden hand at work.
Theatre of the World
By Thomas Reinertsen Berg
'Visually stunning...it's gone straight to the top of my Christmas present list.' The Bookseller'I remember how well I liked to turn the pages of my childhood atlas and travel the world to find out where countries and cities were. But there was never anything about why the maps were created - or who drew them. Theatre of the World was my big chance to tell the stories of all those men and women map makers whose amazing work deserves to be celebrated.' Thomas Reinertsen BergBeautifully illustrated and rich in detail, Theatre of the World reignites our curiosity with the world both ancient and modern. Before you could just put finger to phone to scroll Google Maps, in advance of the era of digital mapping and globes, maps were being constructed from the ideas and questions of pioneering individuals.From visionary geographers to heroic explorers, from the mysterious symbols of the Stone Age to the familiar navigation of Google Earth, Thomas Reinertsen Berg examines the fascinating concepts of science and worldview, of art and technology, power and ambitions, practical needs and distant dreams of the unknown.
The Culture of God
By Nadim Nassar
'So much of the reporting of the Middle East at the moment reflects war and human misery; it's inspiring to find, in this thoughtful and engaging book, a message of hope from what Fr Nadim calls "that region of the world that God chose to live in when he took human form"' Edward Stourton'The ultimate question of this book is, why does it matter to me, a human being, to know the culture of God, and what impact should that have on my own life and existence? The culture of God is the antithesis of the culture of the Pharisees - yet again and again we fall into the trap of condemning or excluding others. Understanding the culture of God helps us to uncover God's image within us, a shining jewel buried deep under the dirt of our selfishness and greed, and helps us to shine as God intends us to, re-forming our relationships with God and with each other in our amazingly diverse world.'It is as we read the Bible, argues Father Nadim Nassar, that we are invited to discover what 'the culture of God' - the community of love that makes up the Trinity - looks like, and how it might transform our lives and our faith. But in order to do so we need to understand the culture of the Bible itself, as well as the particular culture that forms our own worldview. Ultimately it is Jesus who has direct access to the culture of God; and so we also need to understand Jesus within his first-century Levantine context.Father Nadim Nassar is the Church of England's only Syrian priest and an outspoken advocate for western Christians to recognise the Middle-Eastern roots of their faith. The fresh and provocative reflections in The Culture of God, his first book, are informed by his experience of growing up in Syria and living through the conflicts in the region, especially the civil wars in Lebanon and Syria. Taking us on a journey through the mystery of the incarnation, to Jesus' role as storyteller - Al-Hakawati - his relationship with a disparate cast of people as narrated by the gospels, and finally his death and resurrection, Father Nadim unfolds for us the culture of God and what it can mean for a world that so desperately needs both freedom and a way to embrace diversity. 'Fr Nadim's personal experience of the painful effects of war and conflict in the Middle East is an insightful lens into the brokenness of humanity that leads to the ongoing violation of the God-given sanctity and dignity of life. At the same time, the paradox of the Crucifixion and Christianity is presented as a key to understanding the restoration of that same humanity, and the possibility of reconciliation with God and one another if the life and teachings of Christ are truly lived.' Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London
The Secret Lives of Colour
By Kassia St Clair
'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon GarfieldThe Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
By Lucy Worsley
'Such a brilliant idea! Drilling down into Victoria's diaries Worsley gives us Victoria in all her infinite variety - queen and mother, matriarch and minx...I loved it.' Daisy Goodwin, author, and creator of ITV's VictoriaWho was Queen Victoria? A little old lady, potato-like in appearance, dressed in everlasting black? Or a passionate young princess, a romantic heroine with a love of dancing? There is also a third Victoria - a woman who was also a remarkably successful queen, one who invented a new role for the monarchy. She found a way of being a respected sovereign in an age when people were deeply uncomfortable with having a woman on the throne. As well as a queen, Victoria was a daughter, a wife, a mother and a widow, and at each of these steps along life's journey she was expected to conform to what society demanded of a woman. On the face of it, she was deeply conservative. But if you look at her actions rather than her words, she was in fact tearing up the rule book for how to be female. By looking at the detail of twenty-four days of her life, through diaries, letters and more, we can see Victoria up close and personal. Examining her face-to-face, as she lived hour to hour, allows us to see, and to celebrate, the contradictions at the heart of British history's most recognisable woman.
By Diccon Bewes
'A great subject for a cultural anthropologist and Bewes is a perfect guide' Financial Times, Book of the YearA brand new edition of the international bestseller, with new sections on the Swiss elections, the Swiss citizenship test and how Brexit has affected Switzerland. One country, four languages, 26 cantons, and 7.5 million people (but only 80% of them Swiss): there's nowhere else in Europe like it. Switzerland may be almost 400 km from the nearest drop of seawater, but it is an island at the centre of Europe. Welcome to the landlocked island. Swiss Watching is a fascinating journey around Europe's most individual and misunderstood country. From seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate to reliving a bloody past and exploring an uncertain future, Diccon Bewes proves that there's more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese. This book dispels the myths and unravels the true meaning of Swissness.
The Death of Hitler
By Jean-Christophe Brisard, Lana Parshina
On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. Within four days the Soviets had recovered his body. But the truth about what the Russian secret services found was hidden from history when, three months later, Stalin officially declared to Churchill and Truman that Hitler was still alive and had escaped abroad. Doubts began to spread like gangrene and continue, even today, to feed wild fantasies about what really happened to him.In 2017, after two years of painstaking negotiations with the Russian authorities, award-winning investigative journalists Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina gained access to confidential Soviet files that finally revealed the truth about the incredible hunt for Hitler's body.Their investigation includes new eyewitness accounts of Hitler's final days, exclusive photographic evidence and interrogation records, and exhaustive research into the absurd power struggle that ensued between the Soviet, British and American intelligence agencies. And for the first time since the end of the Second World War, authorised cutting-edge forensic tests are carried out on the human remains recovered from the bunker - a piece of skull with traces of the lethal bullet; a fragment of jaw bone and teeth. In this fascinating investigation as thrilling as any spy novel, Brisard and Parshina debunk all previous conspiracy theories about the death of the Führer. With breathtaking precision and immediacy, they penetrate one of the most powerful and controversial secret services on earth to take us inside the final hours of Hitler's bunker - and solve the most notorious cold case in history.
The Escape Artists
By Neal Bascomb
Summer, 1918: twenty-nine officers crawled into a 16 inch high, 55 metre tunnel dug only with spoons. This was the culmination of 9 months gruelling toil in oxygen-starved darkness. Of the twenty-nine escapees, just ten would make their way back to Britain.When captured Royal Flying Corps pilots Captain David Gray, Captain Caspar Kennard and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Blain had arrived at Holzminden - or 'Hellminden' as its occupants called it - the Germans' highest-security prison complex had seemed impregnable. 'The Black Hole' was ruled by the iron fist of Camp Commandant Carl Niemayer, under whose brutal temper prisoners were known to be shot and beaten to death. Not least the breakout artists.After five unsuccessful attempts from different camps in one year, the obsessive Captain Gray was personally determined to orchestrate the building of a tunnel directly under the feet of their one hundred armed guards. With an improvised oxygen piping system, stolen disguises and astonishing courage, this handful of the Kaiser's 2.3 million prisoners would succeed in making their way to neutral Holland and eventually back to Britain - for a private audience at Windsor Palace. The most unlikely escape of the Great War, their derring-do became military legend and the inspiration for the subsequent great escapes of the Second World War.
By Boris Johnson
Shakespeare is the true British icon - he is still the most performed, the most translated, the most venerated playwright in history, and a man whose reputation, if anything, is in the ascendant. No one has resolved so many truths about the human heart, or so brilliantly debated our psychological and political predicaments. No author has ever produced such astonishing female characters, perfected comic language so dazzlingly, or taught us as much about politics as William Shakespeare. Boris Johnson explains Shakespeare's genius in a simple and readable way; in a way that gets to grips with what is really going on, what the characters are up to, what the point of it all is; and in a way that sets the man simply and intelligibly in the context of his time. He explores not only the origin of Shakespeare's genius, but also the nature of his genius. If Shakespeare is the greatest ever, then of what exactly does his greatness consist?'What makes Shakespeare Shakespeare? That, as the man once said, is the question.'